Language Management Online: A diachronic case study of state websites in Norway

Language Management Online: A diachronic case study of state websites in Norway

Language Management Online: A diachronic case study of state websites in Norway

Maimu Berezkina, Center for Multilingualism in Society Across the Lifespan (MultiLing), University of Oslo

Thursday 22nd October, 1.00 pm, SG21A



In this lecture I examine language management in digital state communication in light of rapid technological development in Norway. The analysis is based on diachronic data concerning the presence of Bokmål and Nynorsk (the two written standards of Norwegian), Sami, immigrant languages, and English on websites of three central state institutions: the Tax Administration, the Labor and Welfare Service, and the Directorate of Immigration. This data was collected with the help of The Internet Archive, which is a unique tool providing detailed insight into the historical dimensions and development of websites. The study reveals recent linguistic homogenization of the virtual public sector in Norway. Latest developments show an increased linguistic presence of Nynorsk and Sami, which is regulated by the law. Immigrant languages, however, are less used online, while English performs a ‘hypercentral’ function. Drawing on interviews with key language policy makers at the three institutions, I further discuss the motivations behind changes in language policy in the authorities’ communication with the public in cyberspace.



Maimu Berezkina is a PhD candidate at the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan (MultiLing) at the University of Oslo, Norway. In her doctoral project she analyzes the inclusion of various linguistic groups into the increasingly digitized state communication environment of two European nation-states: Estonia and Norway. Her project draws attention to state websites in policy research, which mirror, and thus implicitly or explicitly promote, dominant language ideological frameworks. Furthermore, the project applies an actor-centered approach to analyzing overt and covert language policies. Having herself previously worked as the localization manager for a website in 34 languages of a global marketing company, Berezkina now focuses on the actors involved in the creation of state communication policies. These actors work in a complex environment where different factors, norms and ideologies require balancing against each other. Berezkina holds a specialist degree in Norwegian Linguistics and Literature from the State University of St. Petersburg, Russia, and a Master’s degree in Scandinavian Linguistics from the University of Oslo. Her previous research projects focused on onomastics and linguistic landscapes.